December 21, 2011
Missed opportunity for Jets
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - You can file this one under the category of a blown chance to move up the ladder for the Winnipeg Jets.
While the Jets do deserve ample credit for rallying from a pair of one-goal deficits to earn a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the harsh reality is that they probably didn’t deserve to get to extra time.
We understand the Islanders are playing better on the road, but they came into the contest 14th in the Eastern Conference and these are the type of games the Jets can’t afford to be on the losing end in their pursuit of the post-season.
“It’s a missed opportunity for sure for points that we needed that were very important against a team we have to keep behind us,” said Jets defenceman Mark Stuart. “We got a point, but not the two that we wanted.”
And they wouldn’t have been in a position to get to extra time without the stellar goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec.
“It’s my job to make some saves,” said Pavelec. “Every point is important. Of course you want to win the game. We couldn’t find a way.”
With the shootout loss, the Jets fall to 15-13-5 on the season as they hit the midway point of this six-game homestand.
CLEAN HIT, NO FIGHT
This game was almost four minutes old when one of the things I hate most about the modern game occurred.
Pardon me while I step onto the soapbox, but why is it that if a player gets laid out with a clean hit, a teammate takes it upon themselves to drop the gloves against the guy that had the audacity to finish his check.
In this case, Stuart stepped up at the left point and decked Frans Nielsen.
Islanders forward Kyle Okposo took it upon himself to stand up for Nielsen and Stuart was happy to oblige.
The point is he shouldn’t have to.
If it’s a dirty check, that’s a different story. Standing up for your teammate is a must in that situation.
In this case, the only reason Nielsen got rocked is because he had his head down — there’s no need to scrap there.
As an aside, the refs got it right, assessing only roughing minors as Okposo fell to the ground and no punches were exchanged.
I know they were teammates with the Dallas Stars a few years back, but can’t help but wonder if Antti Miettinen might become the Jets’ version of Jere Lehtinen.
The fellow Finn was the kind of guy who stayed mostly under the radar but was a smart, consistent performer at both ends of the ice.
On a young team, Miettinen brings nearly 500 games of experience and has a strong work ethic.
Miettinen made his Jets debut on Thursday and for our money, was another astute pick-up by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
Wouldn’t doubt if he hits double digits in goals before the year is out and he’s equally comfortable among the Top-6 forwards or on a checking line, like he was featured on Tuesday night.
Miettinen took 21 shifts for 15:26 of ice time and managed one shot in goal in his first game in roughly three weeks.
BAD CALL ON KANE
For what it’s worth, I didn’t like the goalie interference call on Jets winger Evander Kane.
Kane was flying down the wing, cut to the net and was bumped by Islanders defenceman Milan Jurcina and ended up crashing into goalie Al Montoya, who was shaken up on the play and had to leave the game.
Kane ended up leaving his feet and it looked like he tried to actually go around Montoya but to no avail.
We understand the importance of protecting goaltenders, but was Kane supposed to throw himself into the crossbar in order to avoid contact?
A minor penalty was the harshest penalty we can imagine, there’s no need for Brendan Shanahan to get involved here. This was not suspension-worthy.
WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS?
Islanders defenceman Dylan Reese was wondering why a throng of media was surrounding his locker after the morning skate, then he realized he was sitting beside Travis Hamonic, the pride of St. Malo.
“I hope Travis is the guy they decide to boo,” joked Reese.
The St. Malo product wasn’t booed. In fact, Hamonic noted he had close to 100 supporters in the crowd and he came up with more than 40 tickets for the contest.
“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of people that support me and a lot of close people in my life, a lot of people that I care deeply about,” said Hamonic. “The support I’ve got from Manitobans has been unbelievable and it’s been that way my whole career. It’s an opportunity for me to have a lot of family and friends come watch me play in their own backyard. It’s going to be nice to have some Islander sweaters in here.”
Hamonic was looking a little like Bobby Clarke as he lost one of his front teeth in a recent game and still hasn’t got his replacement yet.
Hamonic got a nice hit in on Tanner Glass on his first shift, just under two minutes into the game.
NICE RETURN FOR GRABNER
Former Manitoba Moose sniper Michael Grabner was excited to play his first game in Winnipeg since graduating to the NHL last season and he picked up his 10th goal of the season in the contest. Grabner drew a nice round of applause when he has saluted on the scoreboard during a break in the action for his contributions to the Moose.